Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Amazing Spider-Man

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Profanity:Mild language
Nudity/Sex:Kissing
Alcohol/Drugs:Some social drinking
Violence/Scariness:Extended superhero fantasy peril and violence, some teen bullying, sad loss of four parents/parent figures, some disturbing mutation images
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:July 3, 2012
DVD Release Date:November 5, 2012

One thing I love about comics is that they are the only form of story-telling, with the possible exception of soap operas, where so many different people tell open-ended stories about the adventures of the same characters through a period that stretches over decades.  The Wikipedia entry on Spider-Man’s “multiverse” includes more than 30 different versions, from the comic strip, cartoon, mutant, and zombie to the spectacular, amazing, noir, hulk, and kid-friendly “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.”  So, much as I enjoyed the Tobey Maguire trilogy (well, the first two) directed by Sam Raimi, I was looking forward to this reboot.

It does not bother me that 28-year-old Andrew Garfield, who has already played a college student (“The Social Network”) and an adult (“Red Riding”) is playing a high school student.  It does not bother me that we have to go through the whole origin story all over again — spider bite, having fun trying out the new powers, death of kindly Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen taking over from Cliff Robertson), though it really should not take up nearly an hour, and much as I love her, Sally Field can’t match Rosemary Harris’ iconic Aunt May.  The efforts to tie Peter Parker’s parents (briefly glimpsed Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) in with the shenanigans going on at Oscorp feel cluttered, and Rhys Ifans as the scientist who lost an arm in his experiments and wants to find a way for humans to regrow limbs the way some animals do does not make a strong impression either as human or as the Godzilla-like creature he becomes.  The problem may be that if Sony does not keep up its schedule of Spider-Man movies, the rights revert to Disney, which bought Marvel.  So at times it feels like a place-holder for the franchise.

But there are a couple of things that work very well and make this an entertaining entry in the superhero canon.  First, and let’s face it, this is what we want from Spider-Man movies, it is a blast to see your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swing his webby way through the city.  In crystal clear IMAX 3D and with true mechanical effects — that is Garfield’s real weight swinging on real strings, not CGI — it is exhilaratingly vertiginous.

Garfield is less soulful and broody than Maguire, more athletic and witty.  Peter Parker’s hipster signifiers include a skateboard, a hoodie, and a Mark Gonzales poster.  And the heavenly Emma Stone plays beautiful science nerd Gwen Stacey, a more interesting character than would-be actress Mary Jane.  There is genuine electricity between Peter and Gwen and director Marc Webb brings the same feel for young love he displayed in “(500) Days of Summer.”  This unexpected tenderness gives heft to the story that in its own way is exhilaratingly vertiginous, too, and gave my Spidey sense a bit of a tingle.

Parents should know that this film has extended super-hero action-style violence, not very graphic but with some disturbing images of mutation and peril, and four sad deaths of parents or parent figures.

Family discussion: How does this compare to the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man series?  Why didn’t Peter try to stop the robbery when he first got his spider-powers?  What made Connors and Chief Stacy change their minds about Spider-Man?

If you like this, try: the first and second of the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” films and the Essential Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby



Previous Posts

Guardians of the Galaxy
The summer movie you've been waiting for has arrived, a joyous space romp that all but explodes off the screen with lots of action and even more charm. Our recent superheros have been complex, often anguished, even downright tortured. It has been a while since we've had a charming rogue with a ba

posted 5:59:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Get on Up
There are a lot of challenges in taking on the life story of James Brown, known variously as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and others with vari

posted 5:59:21pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen's 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath.  In last year's film, "Blue Jasmine," the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its Bernie Madoff-ish crossed with "Streetcar Nam

posted 5:58:31pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Tonight: The Last of Our Pre-Code Series, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman"
Tonight is the last of the Pre-Code films Margaret Talbot and I will be presenting at Washington D.C.'s Hill Center.  And it's a doozy, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman."  We'd love to see you there. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATDif96J5Ms[/youtube] Margaret and I will be back a

posted 3:37:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.